Dana Hull and Julie Johnsson
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, marking the second loss of a spacecraft suffered by Elon Musk’s venture in a little more than a year.
The incident occurred Thursday at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 as SpaceX prepared for Saturday’s launch of Amos-6, an Israeli communications satellite, which was also lost in the blast. The explosion happened shortly after 9 a.m. local time, during a test firing of the rocket’s engines.
“SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today’s standard pre-launch static fire test, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.”
There are only around 50 insured space launches each year – which CNBC reported as being worth $750 million in premiums.
"The nature of this business is very volatile," Chris Kunstadter, senior vice president and global underwriting manager for space at XL Catlin, told cnbc.com "You don't have many losses, but when you do, they're large."
Last May’s Mexican satellite failure was expected to result in claims of over $390 million – leaving carriers as a whole with a loss for the year.
Israeli company Space Communication Ltd. fell 8.9 percent to 39.08 shekels at the close in Tel Aviv, the most in nine months.
Saturday’s launch was to be SpaceX’s ninth of the year. The Hawthorne, California-based company has contracts with NASA to ferry cargo and crew to the International Space Station and contracts with commercial satellite companies to send satellites into orbit.
Thursday’s incident is the first mishap since June 2015, when a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft destined for the space station blew apart 2 minutes and 19 seconds after launch.
Copyright Bloomberg 2016